Dr. T. L. Griswold 1873-1877

Dr. Griswold was a physician and educator from Oswego, N.Y. prior to being appointed principal of the Bloomsburg Literary Institute and State Normal School in June of 1873, being one of three candidates for the position.  He not only served as principal but was also a professor of mental and moral science and the theory and practice of teaching, and taught the physical culture classes.  Griswold worked to strengthen the coursework of the school and firmly believed that a normal school's philosophy had to be to teach teachers for the profession of teaching.  In this way the new teachers would be able to instigate improvements of their own in the grade schools and high schools throughout the state.  As he wrote five weeks after starting at Bloomsburg: "Thoroughness in scholarship and discipline is our motto."

The one great calamity during Dr. Griswold's tenure as principal was the September 4, 1875 fire that destroyed the dormitory building.  Committees were immediately formed to aid the displaced students by providing new housing in the town and purchasing for them clothing, books, and other necessities.  Plans were immediately made for the new dormitory building to be built on the same site for a cost of nearly $48,000.  The cornerstone was laid at the end of October, and less than eight months after the fire it was dedicated on April 26, 1876.  Fifty years later the dormitory would be named Waller Hall.

Although the normal school was prospering and now financially solvent a controversy arose on March 23, 1877 when Dr. Griswold was accused of teaching Spiritualism.  Rumors had circulated throughout the town about the moral and religious teaching at the school and the trustees elected a committee to look into the allegations.  In June the committee reported back and the majority did not find any real problem, but two members had talked to a faculty member who thought that Griswold was undermining religious thought and beliefs in both chapel and the classroom, and this was beginning to erode the convictions of some of the students.   When the board met again in July it refused to re-elect Dr. Griswold for a second term by a vote of nine against and eight in favor.  Problems continued with Griswold however when he claimed the school owed him nearly $2000.  The case dragged on and little by little the debt to Dr. Griswold was paid, although the situation was further complicated in 1878 when contractors on the dormitory demanded more money.  It was not until a special state appropriation came through in 1880 that all debts were cleared, and the relationship between Bloomsburg and T.L. Griswold finally ended.

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